Author: Elizabeth Doss
Being an essential worker in healthcare during this never-ending Covid 19 Pandemic has been, and continues to be, quite the experience full of challenges, frustrations, fears, and rewards. Although the challenges are numerous, it is a very important and exciting time to be a nurse.
I am a labor and delivery nurse working in a hospital, and when we shut our state down in March, we really weren’t seeing many patients coming through labor and delivery with Covid. This was also true hospital-wide. It was a very eerie feeling, walking the halls of the hospital and it looking like a ghost town because certain departments were closed, and visitors weren’t allowed. Fast forward to after the 4th of July, and our hospital was at maximum capacity with Covid patients. This means we went from having extra staff to not enough staff very quickly. Our policies and procedures are constantly changing as we learn more and more about this virus, as we improve our workflow, and as testing improves and criteria changes for testing. Basically, these days, you can count on showing up to work with not enough nurses to get you through your shift, and an updated policy to follow, if you ever get a free minute to read it. It is also a huge challenge to keep our units staffed when we are not supposed to come to work if we have any symptoms of Covid. Although I agree that you should absolutely stay home if you’re sick, some of the Covid symptoms could also be symptoms of a cold or seasonal allergies.
Frustrations? Where to begin? How about having to be at work and having our kids at home? Worrying about childcare and homeschooling? How about being told that you will not be allowed to take a vacation until this pandemic is over? How about constantly battling with burn out and not only having no end in sight, but always being asked to do more? How about hearing promising news on possible treatments out there for them to be later discredited as misinformation? How about not using medications we already have because it needs to be studied in a trial, when people are dying now? I could keep going. My biggest fear is that I will get Covid, most likely from work, not know I have it, and give it to somebody who has underlying health issues who may get very, very sick. This could be someone in my family, someone at a grocery store, or one of my patients. That is why I am more than happy to wear a mask wherever I go. I do not wear the mask to protect myself, I wear it to protect you from me.
On a positive note, I don’t have to worry about losing my job! I feel very proud to be in healthcare right now, because I can come home after every shift and know that I worked as hard as I possibly could have, and it made a difference in somebody’s life. And, really, that is the reason we do what we do, isn’t it? If I didn’t have a family to also take care of, right now would be an amazing time to be a traveling nurse. You could travel to all the hotspots as they emerge throughout the country or travel abroad and make a difference. What a rewarding challenge that could be!! Overall, being a nurse during a global pandemic is very overwhelming and stressful at times, but it is also the perfect opportunity for us to step up to the plate and do what we set out to do from the beginning....take care of people.